Articles

Fri 7th Aug 2015

Formal request by SVG Green Party to ULP government & IADC Board of Directors to urgently close Argyle airport project

Dear ULP government and International Airport Development Company (IADC) Board of Directors,

I am a Vincentian by birth. I write to you as a very concerned citizen of SVG and as the Leader of SVG Green Party, strongly requesting that immediate steps be taken to abort and close down the construction of the Argyle airport for the reasons given below.

Wind studies carried out between February and October 2007 show that the wind direction was predominantly east to west and that the wind speed at Argyle reached 53 knots and was not uncommon for the wind to be around 40 knots. This crosswind is too much for a Boeing 747 -400 aircraft.

On page 14 of the Argyle airport Environmental Impact Assessment, it states that for Argyle airport ‘The selected design is in accordance with the established guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 141, with the operation of aircrafts like the B747-400 series as per Airport Reference Code 4E’.

The table shows that the allowable crosswind for Argyle airport is only 20 knots, far less than the 53 knots recorded at Argyle airport. The airport will not work as the Argyle runway orientation is north – south, 00/18.

20150807table

The ICAO stipulates that when the runway surface is wet the Allowable Crosswind Component
decreases.

Determination of a runway orientation is a critical task in the planning and design of a runway. ICAO guidelines recommend that a runway should always be oriented in the direction of the prevailing wind. Argyle airport has been under construction for about 8 years, but still the IADC is not willing to confirm to the public that the orientation of the Argyle airport runway is north-south, 00/18, perpendicular to the prevailing wind.

The CEO of IADC, Dr. Rudolph Matthias, was quoted in The News, publication 31 July 2015, saying that ‘assessment of wind data is to be soon done’. This is a jackass approach to building an airport. ICAO guidelines say that runway orientation should be based on reliable wind distribution statistics - preferably of not less than five years - and these should be done before the start of runway construction, not 8 years afterwards!

The fact that IADC is soon to assess wind data suggests that IADC intends to change the orientation of Argyle runway, in light of the findings of the upcoming assessment of wind data. Re-orientating the Argyle airport runway will take years and require millions of dollars more. About $800 million has already been wasted and our country is virtually bankrupt. We must abandon this ridiculous situation at Argyle. The project is a shambles and going round in circles.

It was unpatriotic to start the Argyle airport, knowing that the IADC wind studies showed that the strong crosswinds make the Argyle site unsuitable for an airport. It would be unpatriotic, also, to continue with Argyle airport and waste millions of dollars more. There are thousands of children in SVG going hungry and uneducated. There are thousands of households without water and electricity. The SVG government must focus on Vincentians’ needs, not tourists’.

The Yambou river runs through the middle of the Argyle runway. Any soil placed in this gap to fill it, will need at least 3 years to sink and compact naturally to become hard and obtain the necessary density to take the weight of 747 jumbo jets, which weigh 400 tonnes fully loaded. The airport will take at least 4 more years to complete, and even then, it is highly unlikely it will get an ICAO licence to operate passenger flights.

Strong crosswinds and other flight safety hazards associated with Argyle, make it an unsuitable site for an airport. We strongly request that the construction of the misfit Argyle airport be urgently aborted, so that millions of dollars of government money can be invested in creating jobs for our people, building our own university and looking after Vincentians’ needs.

Yours sincerely

 

Ivan O’Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA
Leader and co-founder of SVG Green Party


cc: His Excellency, the Governor General of SVG
President of World Bank
President of International Monetary Fund
Board of Directors Caribbean Development Bank
International Civil Aviation Organisation
OECS Civil Aviation Authority
Secretary General of CARICOM
Cabinet Secretary to ULP government

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